“In the future, further work should deconstruct categories of medicine, psychiatry, and social work and encourage strength based approaches that will supplant new-institutionalization and create a new gold standard in treatment”(Maxwell Guttman, Mental Health Diagnosis: Axioms, Continuum, and Future Directions) 2018
“Congratulations, Jacques, on your publication!” Jonas, Vito, and other friends of mine would make comments like this after hearing about new things I was writing and receiving accommodations for after getting published so many times on mental health. Most of my published articles originated from my blog, Mental Health Affairs. There, I would lay out the groundwork in writing to rethink the way language and mental health were both consumed and practiced by clinicians in the field. I love blogging and went as far as London to profess how deeply I think the lines of healing and writing run in the world of how people think about recovery.
Some of my friends were less enthusiastic about my writing. Specifically, Mcdaggot. Every time I updated him on new writing, a blog post, or recently published article, Mcdaggot would scream through the phone: “Who cares, Jacques. Who is going to even read this?” Mcdaggot would counter each of my positive exlaimations with his negatively, and cruelty. According to Mcdaggot, “my stories had no value to anyone” he would repeat, over and over again, until his whiskey induced rant would devolve into him just barking into the phone making grotesque animal noises and belching.
I really thought Mcdaggot had hit a new low when I told him about my upcoming trip to London where I would speak on blogging and mental health. All Mcdaggot could say, was “FUCK YOU! Jacques, you’re a god-damned loser!” I didn’t even know how to respond to that, or future conversations, in which I would call Mcdaggot, mainly out of concern for his welfare, and all I would hear was heavy breathing through the phone. This whole situation was not only disturbing, it was scary, and quickly unraveling. I knew I had to take the situation into my own hands, if Mcdaggot was going to beat his alcohol addiction, and live another year.
That was when I made arrangements for a support circle with some of our closer friends. First, I spoke with Mcdaggot’s younger but more balanced brother. He seemed to have a head on his shoulders, at least, when compared to the monster that my friend had become in a matter of years after graduating from college. Mcdaggot’s brother echoed my concerns and asked me to put a plan in place. I then contacted our mutual friends via email, explaining to them, in no uncertain terms, that Mcdaggot has been very open about his on-going struggles (e.g. failing to live up to his personal expectations, worthlessness etc.) and the “hopeless” situation he finds himself in these days. I went on to explain that after listening to Mcdaggot sob uncontrollably, I understood this as him expressing te need for additional support.
Jonas, of course, volunteered to facilitate the meeting. Mcdaggot had always secretly admired Jonas. This would be the perfect opportunity for Mcdaggot to hear it from someone so successful he loved so much and had so much respect for in all his endeavors. Vito joined us, and the three of us ventured down to Queens, letting ourselves into Mcdaggot’s apartment. We didn’t even have to break in, or ambush Mcdaggot. He had forgotten he let me borrow his keys last time he was too drunk to drive home from the bar. Knowing the situation was unraveling so quickly, I didnt bother to remind Mcdaggot I had his keys.
We let ourselves into Mcdaggot’s apartment midday, while he was at work. Correction, supposed to be at work. Mcdaggot was passed out on the floor, resembling a cartoon chalk outline of a murder victim on CSI or some murder mystery on lifetime. In larger realm of Mcdaggot’s “life”, of what was left of it, it certainly was no mystery what had happened to our dear friend the night before.
“Oh, fuck me! What the fuck is this?” Mcaggot asked brazenly and without consideration of what was already happening.
“Mcdaggot, we need to talk, buddy…” Jonas said gently, but sternly, like a father figure about to lay it down to his adolescent son.
“Get off me, Jonas!” Mcdaggot wasn’t budging in his rhetoric. Not all all shocked by what was happening, Jonas looked at his fallen friend intently in the eye, saying “Either you sit up, or I am calling a god damned ambulance, this is disgraceful. Look at yourself, sit up, or I will sit you up, son” Jonas replied, without batting a lash, or needing to move an inch.
Mcdaggot sat up at that moment. Opening his eyes, and wiping crust and other unknown specimen from his face and around his mouth. He just looked around. He looked at me, Jonas, and then Vito. Then he cried, and persisted with crying for a good hour until he got cleaned up.
“I need help” Mcdaggot admitted. And with that admission, we were successful in our intervention with our friend. I felt like a wieght had been lifted off my shoulders. At this rate, we would have lost our friend, and I would have felt partly responsible.
That was when I became totally puzzled, and wondered about how Mcdaggot felt after he botched his intervention in Liberty when I needed help. Did he care? Was he nervous? Maybe what we observed today was a piece of that history, manifest in drink, and laden with pain, grief, and self-pity. Either way, it was finally over, and we could heal.